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The Most Effective Free Video Editing Software in 2024

These free video editors for YouTube (and beyond) will deliver the quality you require.

Not everyone has the money to spend on a high-end video editing package. But if you’re on a tight budget or just getting started, there are lots of free video editors to select from. They range from simple freeware to professional-level tools that are regarded as among the best in the field. There are choices for Windows, Mac, and Linux, as well as online apps that may be used in desktop browsers. That’s all to say: you won’t be excluded simply because you’re looking for free.

Over the last 15 years, I’ve tried more video editors than I’d want to count. I’ve used them for anything from creating iPhone films to share on social media to doing commissioned product reviews shot with “real” cameras. 

For this roundup, I started with over 60 apps and put the finest of them to the test. I came up with a roundup of the top free video editors for YouTube and beyond.

The most effective free video editing software

  1. DaVinci Resolve is the most powerful free video editor.
  2. Adobe Premiere Rush is the top free video editing program for rapid edits.
  3. Clipchamp, the best free web-based video editor.
  4. iMovie is the greatest free and simple video editor for Mac users.
  5. Kdenlive is a free, open-source, cross-platform video editor.

What distinguishes the finest free video editing software?

There are free video editors that will guide you through the entire process, as well as more capable tools with space for growth. At the very least, all of the programs on this list allow you to combine footage and export a final product in 1080p—without a watermark—in a format suited for YouTube.

While testing all of the free video editing software I could get my hands on, I utilized the following criteria to help me choose the best one for the job:

  • Editing features. The ability to easily organize clips on a timeline is essential for video editing. Some apps handle this for you with automatic editing features, while others leave you to your own devices with tools for dividing clips and applying markers. I also investigated more advanced editing options such as chroma keying (green screen), multi-camera editing, video stabilization, and effects.
  • Limitations for free users. Only a few of the editors on my selection are completely free; the most are free versions of expensive programs. I only examined apps that could export at 1080p or above with no watermarks and no limit on the number of exports made. The more liberal the free version above that, the better.
  • Efficiency. I was looking for high-performance programs with strong video export choices. (Publishing directly to YouTube was a wonderful bonus, but not required.) Playback should be seamless, and video preview windows should ideally provide quality-setting toggles to suit less capable devices. Web-based video editors should feel as much like desktop apps as feasible and handle the editing workflow accordingly. 
  • Learning and support. Ample support documentation, tutorials, and an active user community can be quite beneficial, particularly for free tools. Simpler tools may only require intuitive design and in-app coaching.
  • Extras. Some video editors are full-featured suites that can handle effects, audio mastering, and even subtitles. Others enable integration with stock footage services and cloud storage sources. Though not required, additions like this made certain video editing software stand out.

To put these video editors to the test, I edited together a collection of 4K HDR footage filmed on an iPhone 13 Pro. I performed basic edits such as adding clips to a timeline, separating clips, modifying playback speed, and creating transitions between clips, as well as more complex choices such as chroma keying, syncing video and audio, and color correction (where applicable). Finally, I ensured that the exported files fit my quality criteria and did not contain any watermarks.

In the end, I chose the following free video editors to meet a variety of needs across all three major desktop operating systems and the web.

The top free video editing software at a glance

Best forStandout featureFree plan limitations
DaVinci ResolveProfessional-level video editing featuresAn entire set of tools, comprising two editing interfaces, audio mastering capabilities, various effects, and delivery options.Exports videos in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second with 8-bit color depth; however, there are restrictions on effects and additional features.
Adobe Premiere RushQuickly editing clips together for publishingChoose your clips, click ‘create’, and Rush will do the rest, generating a video for you.Exports videos in 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second; however, there are certain restrictions on in-app features.
ClipchampEditing video in a web browserA wealth of complimentary assets available for use from Microsoft’s database.1080p video exports
iMovieMac users in need of a simple yet capable editorSeamless integration with iCloud Photo Library and Apple’s expansive ecosystem.Only supports a 16:9 aspect ratio
KdenliveLinux and Windows users seeking a powerful, free editor that exceeds expectationsExtensive array of effects and advanced tools for chroma keying, clip synchronization, and moreGPU rendering is experimental

Top professional-level free video editing tools for Windows and Mac

DaVinci Resolve (Windows, Mac)

The Most Effective Free Video Editing Software in 2024

DaVinci Resolve pros:

  • A full video editing suite for free.
  • There are plenty of assistance materials to help you learn.
  • Upload directly to YouTube, which supports chapters, thumbnails, and titles.

Cons of DaVinci Resolve:

  • Requires some commitment to attain its potential.
  • It may be overkill for simple editing tasks.

DaVinci Resolve isn’t simply the finest free video editor on this list; it’s one of the best video editors overall. DaVinci Resolve, which is constantly being developed by video and editing equipment developer Blackmagic Design, includes extensive support material. Furthermore, the editor’s popularity has resulted in an abundance of user-generated tutorials and how-to videos, making learning even easier.

The most prominent drawback in DaVinci Resolve’s free edition is the lack of 10-bit video export, which can be restricting when working with high dynamic range (HDR) video. Aside from that, DaVinci Resolve has relatively few constraints for YouTube creators and provides video editors with a powerful array of editing tools.

There are Cut and Edit interfaces for swiftly combining footage and creating sophisticated cuts, as well as specific spaces for applying effects, mastering audio, and exporting your work. The editor has great multi-camera functionality, providing a simple method for syncing video and audio to swiftly flip between perspectives. When you’re finished, Resolve may post directly to YouTube, with support for video descriptions and titles, chapter creation using markers, and thumbnail image uploads.

Da Vinci Resolve free version limitations, such as no 10-bit video export, 4K at 60 frames per second export, and fewer effects available compared to the $299 Studio edition.

Top free video editor for rapid tweaks.

Adobe Premiere Rush (Windows, Mac)

The Most Effective Free Video Editing Software in 2024

Adobe Premiere Rush pros:

  • Automatically edits clips in record time.
  • Once finished, upload directly to YouTube.

Cons of Adobe Premiere Rush:

  • Restrictive, single-track video editing workflow.
  • No sophisticated tools, such as chroma key and multi-camera processes.

Adobe Premiere Rush allows you to edit videos in record time. Simply choose your clips or images in the order you want them to display, then click Create, and Premiere Rush will edit your footage for you. You can then edit the single video track and add music or sound effects to the three extra audio tracks before exporting.

To achieve this level of simplicity, you must sacrifice more advanced functionality. However, if you’re not concerned with chroma keying or having more control over your production, Premiere Rush is simple to use. You’re unlikely to require Adobe’s lessons or knowledge base, but they’re available if you do. The program is divided into two interfaces: Edit and Share, and editing or exporting video does not require an Adobe account.

Connect your YouTube account and upload directly to your channel at up to 1080p HD and 60 frames per second. If you want 4K uploads or access to Adobe’s Auto Reframe tool, which converts your video to vertical video aspect ratios, you’ll have to pay the $9.99 monthly price. Serious designers will most likely outgrow Adobe Premiere Rush as they seek more advanced features, but even experienced editors will appreciate how quick and simple it is to operate.

The free version of Adobe Premiere Rush restricts video exports to 1080p at 60 frames per second and does not offer access to Adobe’s Auto Reframe feature.

Best free web-based video editor.

Clipchamp (Web, Windows, Chrome)

The Most Effective Free Video Editing Software in 2024

Clipchamp pros:

  • Multi-track video editing in the browser.
  • Excellent performance for an online application.
  • A good range of free templates and components to choose from.

Cons of Clipchamp:

  • The web-based version requires Chrome or Edge.
  • The Windows software is only a wrapper for the web-based version.

Clipchamp (owned by Microsoft) is a web-based video editor that runs in Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or a browser wrapper for Windows 11. There are some fundamental limitations to editing video in a web browser that Clipchamp cannot solve. Success is mostly determined on the speed and dependability of your internet connection, as well as your computer’s capacity to handle a pretty demanding web program.

That said, Clipchamp may be the best example of its kind—and I don’t simply mean because of its generous free option. It’s a multi-track video editor, which means you can drag and stack clips on the timeline. Using the simple interface on the right side of the editor, you can make basic edits to your clips, modify the playing speed, and apply filters and effects. 

Clipchamp stresses simplicity, which is to be anticipated of a web-based utility. You may get started with your adjustments by using templates or an AI auto-editor, and you can easily create material in vertical or square video formats. Connecting your account to Clipchamp allows you to export at up to 1080p directly to YouTube.

You’ll also get access to a surprisingly large number of free materials, including video transitions, background photos, motion graphics, audio, and an auto-captioning tool for adding subtitles to your projects.

Clipchamp free edition limits include 1080p video export at 60 frames per second and limited access to bundled stock materials.

The best simple and free video editing tool for Mac users.

iMovie (Mac, iPhone and iPad)

The Most Effective Free Video Editing Software in 2024

iMovie Pros:

  • Easy to use and learn.
  • Integrates with iCloud Photo Library for quick editing of footage captured with iPhone.
  • Contains advanced features including chroma keying and stabilization.

Cons of iMovie:

  • Seasoned editors will find iMovie’s feature set limited.
  • Limited to 16:9 widescreen aspect ratios.

As an Apple user, it’s difficult to ignore iMovie. The beginner-friendly video editor includes almost everything you’ll need to create simple videos. It is simple to use, even if you have never used a video editor before. Tight interaction with the Apple ecosystem makes importing iPhone footage a breeze, and you can even begin your edit on the iOS or iPadOS versions of iMovie and finish it on the (better) macOS version later.

Drag and drop clips from your media library into the multi-track editor, then slice and trim as needed. Previewing your footage is as simple as dragging your cursor around the reel, and it works almost instantaneously on newer Apple computers. Performance is comparable to Apple’s professional editing solution Final Cut Pro, albeit the app’s capabilities is significantly constrained to keep things accessible.

Advanced capabilities include chroma keying, video stabilization, noise reduction, and filters that quickly change the appearance of your footage. Apple also provides some of the most visually appealing transitions, title cards, and motion graphics in the industry. iMovie is a good alternative for simple adjustments, and it has a “YouTube and Facebook” export profile (but no in-app connectivity). Aside from the requirement for a Mac, the greatest restricting factor is the 16:9 widescreen format, which does not enable vertical or square aspect ratios.

The free version of iMovie only supports 16:9 widescreen formats.

Best cross-platform, open-source, free video editor (particularly for Linux users)

Kdenlive (Linux, Windows, macOS)

The Most Effective Free Video Editing Software in 2024

Kdenlive advantages:

  • A powerful and logical video editor that seems like a premium tool.
  • Contains complex features, effects, and transitions.
  • Various export options, including H.264, HEVC, and AV1

Cons of Kdenlive:

  • The Mac version does not have a native Apple Silicon version (it uses Rosetta).
  • GPU rendering is still in its experimental phase.

There are several open source and Linux-friendly video editors to pick from, but from what I tried, Kdenlive seems to be the most complete package. The editing interface is simple, yet it has all of the capabilities you’d expect from a professional editor. A razor tool, marks, audio levels for monitoring, and tabbed panels provide quick access to media and effects. There are many editing modes for entering or overwriting footage, as well as a multi-camera editing workflow.

I tested the Windows version, and it worked fine for the most part. Exports may be delayed if the program does not support your GPU, however developers are attempting to improve support with more profiles. The program has fine options for video exports, and while there is no labeled option for YouTube, you can save your own profiles for later use.

Reading the handbook or joining the support community will teach you how to use some of Kdenlive’s more advanced features, such as motion tracking and keying, as well as generating animations. 

One of Kdenlive’s most striking features is its intuitive design, especially when compared to other open-source options like Shotcut and OpenShot. Furthermore, there is a lot of detail to delve into if you want to understand more.

Kdenlive’s free version has no constraints.

What video editing software are YouTubers using?

YouTube includes built-in editing tools that can cut videos and add end screens. However, if you want something more advanced, you’ll need a dedicated video editor.

If you’re seeking for a free and comprehensive video editing package that can grow with you, DaVinci Resolve is the answer. Though it may appear difficult at first, the numerous tutorials provided will quickly bring you up to speed. It will take some time to master, but DaVinci Resolve allows you to do far more than any other editor on this list.

Kdenlive is another excellent option if you want an editor that punches beyond its weight. For Windows and Linux users in particular, Kdenlive provides a simpler workflow than DaVinci Resolve without feeling overly constrained in terms of capabilities. Mac users can achieve identical tasks with iMovie, but performance will be significantly improved due to the app’s Mac-specific optimizations.

Clipchamp and Premiere Rush are surprisingly similar, with the exception that the former works in your browser and the latter runs locally. Both have identical constraints and optional components, and both provide quick and easy editing regardless of ability. If your connection is slow, I recommend Premiere Rush, and if you’re more at ease with a browser-based option, Clipchamp.

The good news is that because all of these video editors are free, you may try them all and find which one works best for you.

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